from seed to sprout

How to germinate cannabis seeds

Germination is the process in which a new plant begins to grow from a seed. Also referred to as “popping,” germination is the very first step in starting your cannabis garden.

Cannabis seeds can be acquired from an array of sources and can vary in quality. For more info on how to buy marijuana seeds, check out our Guide to buying cannabis seeds.

When acquiring seeds, you want to make sure they are matured and that they appear dark brown with lighter accents and a hard feel. You don’t want a seed that feels fresh and looks green, which indicates that the seed hasn’t reached full maturity.

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Once you have your cannabis seeds, make sure you have the space necessary to allow your plants to grow and be healthy. Don’t pop seeds when you are unsure of your grow space, time availability, or intention with your garden.

Check out these additional resources for more info on cannabis seeds:

What’s the best way to germinate cannabis seeds?

Cannabis seeds require three things to germinate: water, heat, and air. Because of this, there are many methods to germinate your seeds. The most common and simplest method involves the use of paper towels saturated in water.

For this method you will need:

  • Two clean plates
  • Paper towels
  • Seeds

Step 1:

Take four sheets of paper towels and soak them with distilled water. The sheets should be soaked but shouldn’t have excess water running off.

Step 2:

Take two of the paper towels and place them on a plate. Then, place the cannabis seeds at least an inch apart from each other and cover them with the remaining two sheets of water-soaked paper towels.

Step 3:

To create a dark, protected space, take another plate and flip it over to cover the seeds (like a dome).

Step 4:

Make sure the area they’re kept in is warm, somewhere between 70-90°F.

After these steps have been completed, it’s time to wait. You can check the paper towels to make sure they’re still saturated, and if they seem to be losing their moisture, you can apply more water to keep the seeds happy.

Some seeds germinate very rapidly while others can take several days. You know a seed has germinated once the seed splits and a single sprout appears.

This is the taproot, which will become the main stem of the plant, and seeing it is a sign of successful germination. It’s important to keep this area sterile, so don’t touch the seed or taproot as the seed begins to split.

Transplanting germinated cannabis seeds

Once you see the taproot, it’s time to transfer your germinated seed into its growing medium. Small 2-inch pots are a good place to start.

Fill the pots with loose, airy potting soil and poke a hole in the middle about a quarter-inch down using a pen or pencil.

To transfer the seed, use a pair of tweezers to gently pick it up, then drop the seed in the hole with the taproot facing down. Lightly cover it with soil.

Next, you’ll need to water the soil. Initially, use a spray bottle to provide moisture without over-saturating the soil. You want to give the seed water, but over-watering can suffocate and kill the delicate sprout.

Pay attention to the temperature and the moisture level of the soil to keep the seed happy, and within a week or so you should see a seedling begin to grow from the soil.

Germinating seeds doesn’t always go as planned. Some seeds will be duds. Others will be slow and take longer to sprout. But some will pop quickly and grow rapidly.

This is the beauty of seeds—often, you can tell which plants or genetics will thrive right from the get-go. This will help you determine which plants you want to take cuttings from for clones and which to breed with other strong plants to create a seed bank of your own.

Follow these simple steps on the best way to properly germinate your cannabis seeds, and find out how to transplant the seeds to soil after germination.

From seed to sprout

February 27, 2014

Pre-Sprouting Seeds: 101

Pre-sprouting means you are sprouting the seeds in the absence of soil, and then transplanting the ‘live’ seed with a bit of root to soil, compost, or vermiculite. The two most common methods of pre-germination are moist paper towel and gel. While many gardeners will ONLY use seeds prepared for the current growing season, what if you have some older seeds? Would you risk planting them and hope that they will grow? If you pre-germinate them, you can tell right away which seeds are viable and which are ready for the compost heap. Talk about saving time and valuable space in your vegetable patch.

Pre-Sprouting Methods

The basic way to pre-sprout seeds is very simple.
  1. Moisten two-three sheets of paper towel, not dripping wet just wet.
  2. Lay one layer of paper towel in a shallow Tupperware container*
  3. Spread the seeds out evenly
  4. Cover with another layer of moist paper towel
  5. Place the container in a warm spot, 70-75 degrees F is ideal
  6. Check the seeds daily, most seeds will start to germinate in 1-2 days
  7. Re-moisten if needed, you do not want the seeds to dry out

Once the seeds sprout roots it is time to transplant them to starter pots or sow them into the ground. Theses sprouted seeds are extremely fragile you do not want to break the roots that have formed. If the germinated seed has a little bit of paper towel stuck to it, that is ok.

*As an alternative to the Tupperware, you can lay the seeds on a single layer of paper towel and make little seed packets that can be placed in zip top bags that are only closed about ½ way.

The advanced method of sprouting seeds involves making a gel. First, mix 1 cup of water with 1 teaspoon of cornstarch. Let the mix come to a boil and start to thicken. Pour the mix into a shallow bowl, a pie plate, works well too. Spread the seeds evenly over the gel and cover with plastic wrap. Place the bowl in a warm place near a window for some indirect sunlight.

As soon as the seeds start to sprout roots, it is time to plant them. Take the pie pan outside and spoon the seed, with some of the surrounding gel into a ½” deep hole and cover lightly.

If you are up for a little adventure, there is one more method of planting you can use with the gel. Pour the gel mixture into a zip top plastic bag. Pour the seeds into the gel and mix around to distribute the seeds evenly. Zip the bag about ¾ of the way shut so some air circulates. Once seeds start to germinate take the bag outside and get ready to plant. First, dig a trench about ½-3/4” deep. Then cut a slit in a corner of the bag, and slowly squeeze the gel/seed mixture into the trench. Cover lightly and voila you have planted a row of pre-sprouted seeds.

Crops that work well with pre-sprouting are cucumber, tomatoes, peas, carrots, corn, parsley, pepper, eggplant, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and beet root. Beans can be pre-sprouted, but it is best to sow them directly as they have large cotyledons full of starch, and germinating beans are extremely susceptible to cracking.

If you are growing in a greenhouse, or a backyard vegetable patch, pre-sprouting seeds can shorten your growing window by days or even weeks. In some climates, where the growing window is short for things such as corn this can mean the difference between harvesting crops or watching them die from the first frost.

Happy planting! Feel free to post pictures of your pre-sprouted seeds on our blog or our Facebook page.

With less than a month before spring, we are continuing to talk about seeds. According to the calendar spring officially starts on March 20th 2014. However, Mother Nature does not pay as close attention to the calendar as we do. In the Northern Hemisphere, the spring planting and growing season start much later than March 20th. With some people experiencing a short growing